9Honey making life sweeter for Australian women

Network editor Kerri Elstub talks about its success so far and growth opportunities

Helen McCabe, Kerri Elstub

It’s been just over four months since Nine’s lifestyle network 9Honey launched with the tag line “make life sweeter”. In this time, it’s dipped toes into podcasting, unveiled a new content pillar and recently clocked up about 1.4 million unique browsers.

The two people charged with making Nine competitive in the digital space are head of lifestyle, Helen McCabe, and the editor of 9Honey, Kerri Elstub. Mediaweek caught up with Elstub after a breakfast event held by the company to unveil new research about Aussie mums (see below).

“The breakfast went really well, exhausting, but really good,” she told Mediaweek.

Elstub started off this year for 9Honey with the launch of its first podcast series called Sweet Spot. Journalist Katherine Feeney presents the weekly podcast on love, marriage, dating and sex. It was launched on 1 February 2017, the same week as the premiere of the new season of Married At First Sight. The podcast series was designed to capitalise of the TV format’s success, which has surpassed expectations for the network – even beating Seven juggernaut My Kitchen Rules. As reported by James Manning late last month, on the nights that Married At First Sight screened this year, the growth all people year-on-year is 28.9%.

This has largely helped the success of Sweet Spot, Elstub said. “When you have a show as big as Married, everyone is always going to be doing stuff. It’s important for us to work really well with the publicity team, the editorial team and the video team to make sure that we do capitalise on that stuff, because we are all watching it. I have watched every single episode.

“It’s really important that we own that material. It’s really popular and it would be crazy not to jump on it.”

With the diversification of the business, Nine is ensuring that all of its consumer-facing properties are being promoted across different platforms – for example, Married At First Sight on 9Honey and the latter on Today Extra by featuring Elstub on the Today’s Take segment.

Asked if 9Honey is expected to provide editorial coverage for all Nine shows irrespective of their performance, Elstub said: “No, not at all. There are certainly no expectations that 9Honey will be the official publicity platform for the Nine Network.”

The women’s digital network is enjoying a lot of success on the back of Married At First Sight. Following that show’s season, Nine has The Voice in the works, as well as the much-talked-about Australian adaptation of Ninja Warrior, which is due to premiere later in the year. There is also the long-running reality series The Block, which is expected to get a run in the second half of 2017.

These shows fit perfectly with 9Honey’s target market. Elstub said, “Our target market is literally A Current Affair audience. It’s the middle Australian women. They are in the 25- to 54-year-old band, I would say. We are certainly not chasing teenagers. I don’t think you can be all things for all people.”

9Honey has access to Nine’s enormous library of video content but Elstub and team are also looking at producing exclusive video content for 9Honey. It already does this to a certain extent with news updates for 9Honey’s social and the Facebook live sessions called Let’s Talk, which feature talents from the Married At First Sight series. These are filmed on one of the Nine News sets in Willoughby and are produced in HD.

“There are a lot of challenges when it comes to video online. It’s an area that Helen and I are focused on,” Elstub said. “We are very focused on getting it right. The company [NEC] has a broadcast component. We are working on a number of different angles to improve our video content and delivery.

“When it comes to Nine’s licensed shows there is no drama at all [with republishing content online]. We’ve been doing that pretty well with Married At First Sight, we’ve used videos from 9Now, stories coming from our showbiz website The Fix and Honey has been packaging stories as well that we know will do well.”

From telly-land to digital-land

Elstub has been with Nine for over 15 years, mostly working in TV. She has worked as the executive producer of Weekend Today, KerriAnne and was most recently the supervising producer on A Current Affair. Before that, Elstub was with 2UE (now called Talking Lifestyle) for about seven years working as a producer across multiple shows.

After such a long time in TV, Elstub admitted that she jumped into the unknown with her new role as the editor of 9Honey. She identified this as her biggest challenge in the role so far.

“Learning about the business and the digital lingo has been the biggest challenge,” she admitted. “But that’s going to come with time. I didn’t come across as a digital expert – that has to be learnt. But I am certainly a consumer of digital for everything from shopping to lifestyle.”

Elstub said the role of 9Honey network editor felt like her calling. She first came across 9Honey during a presentation by McCabe introducing the new digital network.

“I’d never met Helen [before the presentation] but knew of her through her journalism work,” Elstub said. “I introduced myself to her and then followed up with her with an email a couple of days later. I wrote, ‘If you are looking to expand your team, I would love to come across.’

“Within about 10 to 15 minutes of chatting, she said, ‘The job is yours if you want it.’”

The fact that A Current Affair has a large female audience has helped Elstub in her new role.

“That’s probably why I felt so comfortable coming across and thinking that I have a pretty good handle on what women want and what they want to read.

“I adore television and I don’t think I’ll ever lose the love for that,” she said.

9Honey’s new vertical 9Mums

During a recent breakfast event hosted by 9Honey, Elstub and Nine’s head of lifestyle for digital, Helen McCabe, revealed a new content pillar for the network called 9Mums. Kelly Baker is the editor of the new category.

“Kelly has been with Nine digital for about six or seven months,” Elstub said.

McCabe and Baker have previously worked together when the former was the editor-in-chief of Bauer Media’s The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Kelly Baker

As the name of the new vertical would suggest, 9Mums will focus on catering to the content needs of Australian mothers. For the launch of the pillar, Nine invested in researching the market and found that advertisers are missing the mark when it comes to connecting with Australian mums. The stereotype of frazzled and overwhelmed super moms is no longer true. The survey, which compared more than 800 respondents, found that 85% are happy and content as a mother, and almost three out of four feel their parenting efforts were appreciated.

The new vertical 9Mums was sold to the crowd present at the breakfast on 24 March 2017 as the answer to this gap.

Following the success of Sweet Spot, 9Honey is looking at the opportunities to launch a podcast series for mothers under the 9Mums banner, Elstub revealed.

More on women’s content

Towards the end of 2016, Mediaweek sat down for a one-on-one chat with the former editor of The Australian Women’s Weekly, Helen McCabe. In the podcast McCabe discussed with Kruti Joshi her move from magazines to digital, competition in the women’s content space and podcasting.

To listen to the podcast head to Mediaweek.com.au and search “Helen McCabe”. To read more about women’s content, also seek out Mediaweek’s conversation with Mamamia’s Kylie Rogers and Whimn’s Felicity Harley by entering their names into the search box on the Mediaweek website.

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